New York retaining the first baseman could be a key piece in keeping the slugger in the Bronx.
After a 2022 season in which the veteran bounced back to hit 32 home runs, Rizzo agreed to a two-year, $40-million deal, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. It reportedly includes a club option for the third year worth $17 million with a $6 million buyout.
However, the three-time All-Star also brought a great sense of leadership to New York’s clubhouse. With Rizzo—one of three marquee free agents for the Yankees this offseason—retained, the journey to returning Yankees slugger Aaron Judge remains at the forefront for the franchise.
In Rizzo securing his deal, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the 33-year-old and Judge grew “very close” with each other over the last two years. In the 2022 campaign, both Rizzo and Judge were the team’s top two home run hitters.
But aside from Rizzo’s production, Judge has previously spoken about the impact of having a teammate and friend like Rizzo. When the Yankees came to Chicago in May for a four-game series against the White Sox, the four-time All-Star told the Chicago Sun-Times that Rizzo was one of the most “welcoming leaders” he had been around.
“Having a guy like that who’s had his success, he [Rizzo] could be an a-hole to everyone in this room,” Judge said in May, per the Times. “He is just so calm, cool and collected … and when you bring that in here—into a hostile environment in New York—it really helps.
“I honestly think it’s one of the biggest reasons we’ve had a lot of success in games where we’ve come back. He keeps everybody loose. We’re down 3–0 in the second or third inning? ‘Hey, this is a game. We’ve got a really good team.’ It doesn’t matter how many runs we’re down, he always likes our chances and just puts confidence in guys.”
As the dust settles on Rizzo’s deal, it could serve as one of several dominoes to retain the outfielder in the Bronx.
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